From 100 To 19,000 With Kelly Clarkson

From 100 To 19,000 With Kelly Clarkson

Breaking away from assumptions and being persistent to achieve aspirations
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When I was in middle school, I sang Kelly Clarkson’s song “Breakaway” in one of my first talent shows. Living in my tiny hometown, where the total number of students in the high school is around 400, the opening lyric “Grew up in a small town” felt pretty accurate. Although I was in middle school, I thought I knew so much and was so deep, as many middle school students do, the song, all about being able to experience more than the little place you know so well, still means a great deal to me.

As Justin Herring of Sidewinder.fm said in his article, “Rise Above: The Challenges Of Today's Independent Musician,” on Hyperbot.com, “It’s hard to say what steps a musician today should take in order to reach their desired level of success.”

In a small town, it’s much more difficult to be noticed as an artist. While aspiring artists in Los Angeles and New York may have a tough time making it big, they have a larger group of people to compete with and a larger audience. They may attract the attention of a niche group. Small towns have much smaller niche groups, which means certain individuals get the majority of the attention of their student body audience. There generally aren’t big bosses or agents who can help bring attention or success to an artist in a small town. And when you don’t have a voice that’s powerful in the same way as Beyoncé’s or belt songs in the same way as many pop stars, it may feel like you aren’t as talented as them.

My family, friends and other acquaintances have always been supportive of my musical endeavors, like my YouTube channel smiles fromca. They give me compliments, tell their friends and family about things that I do and share or like my videos on social media like YouTube. It’s wonderful. However, it’s often more difficult than some individuals make it look to gain subscribers on a YouTube channel. And it’s especially difficult to be patient enough to make great quality videos that will get attention — video and filmmaking are not nearly as easy as they may seem.

During high school, some of my friends were taking lessons with a voice teacher, Eva Kendrick. I had wanted to do voice lessons for some time and decided I would start. Eva helped me in many ways; she told me what my vocal range is and that I'm a soprano. She helped me to work on my soprano range, as well as to expand my vocal range overall. I performed in more shows, which she arranged, and for different audiences. I did my first vocal competition with her help. She gave me the tools and encouragement to be more confident in my vocal abilities. Although I didn’t gain thousands of subscribers due to Eva and voice lessons, I became a stronger and more assured performer.

I have loved and been inspired by Kelly Clarkson since I was in elementary school, singing along to “Breakaway” and “Since U Been Gone." Many of her songs are empowering, Taylor Weatherby of Entertainment Weekly writes, "And with empowering lyrics such as ‘Now I am invincible/No, I ain’t a scared little girl no more’ and ‘I have courage now, gonna shout it out,’ Clarkson declares that her ‘Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)’ spirit hasn’t changed.” Therefore, I was excited when I saw that Kelly Clarkson was having an Open Mic Night contest. AXS.com Contributor Chase Hunt said, “Having Open Mic Night will be a way for fans to get their voices heard and to share the stage with the three-time Grammy winner.”

For the contest, I created a video of me covering “Learn to Fly” by the Foo Fighters, singing and playing guitar. I worked hard to make my cover different from the original song and to make the video good quality. I filmed the cover several times to get it right. I worried that someone who belts or sings like Ariana Grande would win. When I received the email from Kelly Clarkson’s tour telling me I was chosen, I basically just read “Congratulations Shannon!” before running to tell my mom.

I rehearsed outside in the beautiful, hot and sunny weather, soundchecked onstage and got to hear the band start up loudly behind me. I got to meet and chat with a woman who has inspired me since elementary school. I got to perform onstage in front of 17,000 to 19,000 people.

Anyone, anywhere, can achieve his or her aspirations; it just takes confidence, belief in oneself and hard work. If you are a small-town individual who dreams while gazing out the window, much like Kelly Clarkson sings about in “Breakaway,” believe that you have the ability to do amazing things.

Cover Image Credit: My mother Jennifer Miles

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50 Quotes from the Best Vines

If you're picturing the vines in your head, you're doing it right
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In 2017 we had to say goodbye to one of the best websites to ever roam the internet: Vine. In case you have been living under a rock since 2013, Vine was -(sad face)- a website and app that took the internet and the app store by storm in Winter 2013. It contained 6-second videos that were mostly comedy- but there were other genres including music, sports, cool tricks and different trends. Vine stars would get together and plan out a vine and film it till they got it right.

It was owned by Twitter and it was shut down because of so many reasons; the viners were leaving and making money from Youtube, there was simply no money in it and Twitter wanted us to suffer.

There's been a ton of threads on Twitter of everyone's favorite vines so I thought I'd jump in and share some of my favorites. So without further ado, here are some quotes of vines that most vine fanatics would know.

1. "AHH...Stahhp. I coulda dropped mah croissant"

2. "Nate how are those chicken strips?" "F%#K YA CHICKEN STRIPS.....F%#K ya chicken strips!"

3. "Road work ahead? Uh Yea, I sure hope it does"

4. "Happy Crimus...." "It's crismun..." "Merry crisis" "Merry chrysler"

5. "...Hi Welcome to Chili's"

6. "HoW dO yOu kNoW wHaT's gOoD fOr mE?" "THAT'S MY OPINIONNN!!!.."

7."Welcome to Bible Study. We're all children of Jesus... Kumbaya my looordd"

8. Hi my name's Trey, I have a basketball game tomorrow. Well I'm a point guard, I got shoe game..."

9. "It's a avocadooo...thanks"

10. "Yo how much money do you have?" "69 cents" "AYE you know what that means?" "I don't have enough money for chicken nuggets"

11. "Hurricane Katrina? More like Hurricane Tortilla."

12. "Hey Tara you want some?" "This b*%th empty. YEET!"

13. "Get to Del Taco. They got a new thing called Freesha-- Free-- Freeshavaca do"

14. "Mothertrucker dude that hurt like a buttcheek on a stick"

15. "Two brooss chillin in a hot tub 5 feet apart cuz they're not gay"

16. "Jared can you read number 23 for the class?" "No I cannot.... What up I'm Jared, I'm 19 and I never f#@%in learned how to read."

17. "Not to be racist or anything but Asian people SSUUGHHH"

18. 18. "I wanna be a cowboy baby... I wanna be a cowboy baby"

19. "Hey, I'm lesbian" "I thought you were American"

20. "I spilled lipstick in your Valentino bag" "you spilled- whaghwhha- lipstick in my Valentino White bag?"

21. "What's better than this? Guys bein dudes"

22. "How'd you get these bumps? ya got eggzma?" "I got what?" "You got eggzma?"

23. "WHAT ARE THOSEEEEE?" "THEY are my crocs!"

24. "Can I get a waffle? Can I please get a waffle?"

25. "HAPPY BIRTHDAY RAVEN!" "I can't sweem"

26. "Say Coloradoo" "I'M A GIRAFFE!!"

27. "How much did you pay for that taco?" Aight yo you know this boys got his free tacoo"

28. *Birds chirping* "Tweekle Tweekle"

29. "Girl, you're thicker than a bowl of oatmeal"

30. "I brought you Frankincense" "Thank you" "I brought you Myrrh" "Thank you" "Mur-dur" "huh...Judas..no"

31. "Sleep? I don't know about sleep...it's summertime" "You ain't go to bed?" "Oh she caught me"

32. "All I wanna tell you is school's not important... Be whatever you wanna be. If you wanna be a dog...RUFF. You know?"33. "Oh I like ya accent where you from?" "I'm Liberian" "Oh, my bad *whispering* I like your accent..."

34. "Next Please" "Hello" "Sir, this is a mug shot" "A mug shot? I don't even drink coffee"


35. "Hey did you happen to go to class last week?" "I have never missed a class"

36. "Go ahead and introduce yourselves" "My name is Michael with a B and I've been afraid of insects my entire-" "Stop, stop, stop. Where?" "Hmm?" "Where's the B?" "There's a bee?"

37. "There's only one thing worse than a rapist...Boom" "A child" "No"

38. "Later mom. What's up me and my boys are going to see Uncle Kracker...GIVE ME MY HAT BACK JORDAN! DO YOU WANNA SEE UNCLE KRACKER OR NO?


39. "Dad look, it's the good kush." This is the dollar store, how good can it be?"

40. "Zach stop...Zach stop...You're gonna get in trouble. Zach"

41. "CHRIS! Is that a weed? "No this is a crayon-" I'm calling the police" *puts 911 into microwave* "911 what's your emergency"

42. "WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? "

43. *Blowing vape on table* * cameraman blows it away* "ADAM"

44. "Would you like the spider in your hand?" "Yea" "Say please" "Please" *puts spider in hand* *screams*

45. "Oh hi, thanks for checking in I'm still a piece of garrbaagge"

46. *girl blows vape* "...WoW"

47. *running* "...Daddy?" "Do I look like-?"

48. *Pours water onto girl's face" "Hello?"

49. "Wait oh yes wait a minute Mr. Postman" "HaaaAHH"

50. "...And they were roommates" "Mah God they were roommates"


I could literally go on forever because I just reference vines on a daily basis. Rest in peace Vine

Cover Image Credit: Vine

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The Queen Of Soul Leaves A Story To Tell And A Voice That Cannot Be Replicated

Aretha Franklin may have passed on, but her legacy will live forever.

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On March 25, 1942, Aretha Franklin was born. The daughter of a well-known and highly respected Baptist Minister and Gospel singer from Memphis, Tennessee would soon move to Detroit, Michigan, where Aretha would meet lifelong friends and musical contributors.

Aretha Franklin was engulfed in music from the day she was born and, by the middle of the 1950s, Aretha had learned to play piano and began singing alongside her sisters in the church choir. It was during this time that Franklin first met strong, historical figures, such as Clara Ward, Smokey Robinson, and civil rights activists Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson. These are notable family friends that would stand by Aretha's side many times in the future.

Like many people finding themselves in the spotlight, there is more to Aretha Franklin's story than what is put in the tabloids. There are deeper events in her timeline that contribute to her emotion-filled voice. At the small age of six, Aretha endured her mother's leaving of the family and death four years later.

Aretha began a family of her own at the age of 12. In 1956, Clarence, Franklin's first son was born. Two years after, Aretha gave birth to her son Edward.

In the years that make up the start of the Franklin Clan, Aretha Franklin signed to Columbia Records and moved to New York. Moderate success would be found in the next five years of her music career. In 1961, Aretha Franklin was married and conceived her third child, Teddy Jr., with her newly-wedded husband.

While moderate success is admirable, Aretha signed with Atlantic Records and, in 1967, released an album "I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You" with a hit track of the same name giving Aretha Franklin her first Top 10 hit.

Following the great success of her 1967 album, Aretha moved on to release other critically acclaimed hit songs, including, "Respect," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "Chain Of Fools" and more, earning her several Grammy awards and the cover of Time Magazine, where her nickname, The Queen Of Soul, was born.

To the outside world, Aretha Franklin was constantly moving up, but, behind closed doors, Aretha's personal life was struggling. Ms. Franklin has a history of arrests for disorderly conduct and reckless driving. She had also developed an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Franklin divorced her abusive husband, Ted White, and allowed the experience to serve as inspiration in the studio. Aretha was married and gave birth to her fourth son, Kecalf, in the 1970s. The relationship would end in 1984.

Along with her growing popularity as a singer, Aretha Franklin became a symbol of pride for many black Americans during the climax of the Civil Rights Movement. Many women, also looked to Aretha as a strong black woman that is living proof of what Black Women can be.

Aretha Franklin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1987, becoming the first women to ever be listed.

As times changed and music continued to redefine itself, it became difficult for a soul-gospel singer to stay in the spotlight. Nevertheless, Aretha Franklin always found a way to release a hit that transcended the ever-changing boundaries of music. With collaborations, covers, an autobiography, and The Presidential Medal Of Freedom awarded in 2005, Aretha Franklin never left the minds of all who cared to listen and pay attention. She continued to inspire multiple generations and give breath-taking performances that reminded the world why she was, indeed, The Queen Of Soul.

Aretha Franklin spoke to hearts around the world with the utter of one subtle note. Her ability to stay relevant, no matter the age group, amazed but did not surprise. The world knew she was one of a kind. The world knew there was only one Aretha. Through the years, Ms. Franklin never altered to fit in and never strayed away from the type of music she wanted to produce for the happiness of others. Her name alone is a cause for celebration. The amount of records she holds is mind-boggling. Her music narrated, not only her personal endeavors but the lives of people worldwide. A personal connection can be made when listening to any of her songs. Aretha Franklin is a standing ovation within herself.

Little did the outside world know, Ms. Franklin had been battling illness for years, behind-the-scenes. Although occasional rumors would ring of her health, Aretha dodged all questions and killed all concerns with poise and a brilliant smile. She did not want the world to know of her health issues, no matter how small. A longtime friend of Aretha Franklin told People Magazine, "She has been ill for a long time, She did not want people to know and she didn't make it public." Word spread of a battle between Aretha Franklin and Pancreatic Cancer for many years, although, of course, no confirmation or details were given on the matter.

It started to become hard to hide the ailing condition of The Queen once shows frequently began to be canceled, due to doctors orders. Aretha had announced in February of 2017 that she would be retiring from music, but may take the stage at select events. Franklin was true to her word and returned to the stage in August of 2017 and at the Elton John AIDS Foundation's Enduring Vision benefit gala in November of the same year. Fans became highly concerned by the more than noticeable shift in Aretha Franklin's appearance.

A close friend of the phenomenal singer told TMZ, "she could go at any time," and mentioned that she was down 85 lbs. This information was given two weeks ago. Unfortunately, better updates did not follow.

On the morning of Thursday, August 16, 2018, The Queen Of Soul, Aretha Franklin passed away. She leaves behind her soul-touching music, a record of more than 20 chart-topping R&B; hits and 18 Grammy wins, and anthems that will live for ages. She is survived by her four sons.

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, and, while the physical body that is Aretha Franklin has moved on to Glory, the teachings and inspirations of her soul shall live forever. Like many idols before her, it is indeed hard to say goodbye, but let us be grateful for the time we had to witness the greatness that is Aretha Louise Franklin. May she rest in sound peace.

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